There is a running joke among Millennials that they don’t know “how to adult”. For many people, this is not a joke. It’s a sad reality that they do not know how to do a lot of basic things. Years ago, Home Economics class was a requirement for secondary schools. Today, it has been removed with the assumptions that parents are going to teach their kids everything. Maybe parents never got the memo, because plenty of young people who grew up in the middle class have been raised without learn basic life skills. They go to college, and then the real world. Suddenly, full-grown adults in their 20’s don’t know how to do things that their parents took for granted. In reality, this is not the Millennial’s fault. If no one teaches you “how to adult”, how are they expected to know it? Here are 40 great reasons why Home Economics class needs to come back for the next generation.
40. Learning How to Write a Check
Digital banking, debit cards, and even cryptocurrency are all making paper checks obsolete. Yes, some day, checks will be a distant memory, and every year, they are being used less and less. Many people can even pay their rent online. However, there are still moments where companies play it old school, and they want a hand-written check. It is also necessary to have checks or money orders when you are transferring large amounts of money when buying a house. Even if your kids will only need to write a check a few times in their life, it is still important for them to know how to do it, if only to save themselves the embarrassment some day in the future.
39. Sewing Basic Clothing Repairs
Years ago, every young girl was taught how to sew in school, and she knew how to mend and patch clothing. Nowadays, with the growing “fast fashion” industry, no one finds it to be necessary anymore. With the prevalence of cheap second-hand clothing at thrift stores, many people have found it easier to throw their ripped clothes away and buy new ones. This is incredibly wasteful, and many people do not realize the impact it has on the planet. According to EDGE, every single person throws away an average of 70 pounds of clothing per year, when 95% of that material could have been recycled. On top of being environmentally conscious, it can also help keep your favorite clothes around a lot longer. If you have a rip along a seam, it should be easy to sew a straight line and repair it with a needle and thread. If you have never done this before, check out YouTube for quick tutorial videos, and pick up a sewing kit at the dollar store.
38. Making a Budget
We know what you’re thinking. The advice to “make a budget” is suggested in nearly every finance article on the Internet. But how many people actually follow through on that advice? Back when kids took Home Economics class, they were taught how to make a budget, and it became common sense. Women who grew up to be house wives often took care of the household budget with their husband’s paychecks to make sure they had enough set aside for the bills, and the once-yearly vacation. If it feels like the past generation had their lives so much more together than Millennials do, it’s probably because someone took the time to teach them! Do yourself a favor and write out all of your expenses, and your income. Make a budget, and try your best to stick with it.
37. Building Confidence to Become a Homeowner
Here at Self-Made, we already wrote about how Millennials are buying fewer homes than their previous generation. Aside from student loan debt and lower income, many young people don’t feel totally confident that they can handle all that goes into owning and maintaining a home. Renting seems so much easier, since a landlord will take care of any repairs that are necessary. Years ago, in Home Economics class, teachers explained all of the potential issues that may come up in household maintenance, and how to deal with it. Young boys also took wood shop, so they were all relatively handy with carpentry, at least enough to do their own home repairs.
We have all met someone who can barely cook, aside from stove-top-ramen. This is truly sad, because it means that this person is stuck eating fast food and microwave meals. This is often a huge contributing factor of over-spending on food, and gaining weight. One of the biggest things they taught in Home Economics class is cooking. Sure, they only get to make the basics, like cookies, cakes, and Thanksgiving meal, but it’s still better than nothing. Once kids have the tools available to them on how to read a recipe, take measurements properly, baking times, etc., they should be able to go forward in life and cook again some day. If you want to see an example of how inept modern-day people are in the kitchen, check out “Nailed It!” on Netflix. It truly is a train wreck.
Many parents make their children do chores at home, and they learn how to clean at least something in a house. Maybe it is their duty to take out the trash, or walk the dog. However, a shocking number of young people have never been taught some basic rules in cleaning a house from top to bottom. For example, they need to know about where, when, and how to use bleach. They also need to know how to clean wood floors, a toilet, mold, etc. Yes, they can always look up how to do something on Google. But back when kids took Home Economics, they were taught these skills in school. This helped them appreciate their parent’s hard work, offer to help around the house more, and become more capable once they lived on their own.
34. Saving Money
Sadly, only five states in the require their students to have a class in financial literacy. This used to be part of the Home Economics curriculum, as well, but now it’s gone. So, unfortunately, kids are not learning how to save in school, and that responsibility is left up to the parents. Obviously, not everyone is a self-taught financial guru. If the parents are setting a bad example by over-spending and getting into debt, their children are more likely to follow in their footsteps, too. There is a saying that “you are the summation of the people you surround yourself with”. If a child is raised in a community of poor people, this is only more likely to continue the cycle. Sometimes, all it takes is for a young person to hear the right advice about saving money at an early age for them to make the right decisions.
In our grandparent’s generation, it was common for everyone to invest in stocks and bonds, and that was probably because they were taught in Home Economics class. Nowadays, if you invest in the stock market, people look at you like you are some kind math wizard. As we mentioned earlier on this list, only 5 states require schools to teach kids about personal finances. Because of this, there are very few adults who fully grasp how investing works. If you are trying to learn more about the process, check out websites like Investopedia for guides on how to get started investing.
32. Respecting the Role of a Stay-At-Home Parent
In our society, getting “stuck” with the role of a stay-at-home mom or dad can seem like a real drag. It feels like it is diminishing our ability to get a “real” job. In reality, there is actually so much that needs to get done to run a large household, it truly is a full-time job. And in many cases, mothers feel under-appreciated and frustrated with their position. Years ago, in Home Economics, students were taught how important being a housewife is to make a family function properly.
To put things into perspective, read this article titled I Can’t Afford My Wife. Steven Nelms writes about how he calculated all of the work his wife does to raise their family and run his household. Without her, he would need to hire a housekeeper, nanny, chef, and personal assistant. It would cost him $73,960 per year, but his wife does all of that for free. Moms (and dads!) who choose to stay at home deserve a lot of respect, and sometimes, the new generation can forget that.
31. Child Development
It is possible for nearly everyone to make a child, and yet no one gives you an instruction book on how to do it. Parents should know the basic stages of child development, like when is a normal time for a baby to learn how to walk and talk. Without being aware of these issues, children can go years without being diagnosed with certain learning disabilities or medical issues. Back when Home Economics was a requirement in High School, young girls were taught about pregnancy, breast feeding, and how to raise children. Then, they learned about what a “normal” level of development was in every stage of a child’s life. Today, it’s possible to learn this in Child Development and Psychology classes, if you elect to take it in college.
30. Health and Hygiene
We all remember that kid in Middle School or High School that always smelled bad, had outrageous acne, and never shaved his beard. These kids are usually the target of bullies, but the sad reality is that they are probably not being taught proper hygiene at home. In today’s world, that is considered to be a responsibility left up to the parents. Unfortunately, there are some parents who never actually take the time to teach their kids these skills, or they assume that they will figure it out on their own. Years ago, in Secondary School, students were taught how to manage their body’s changes, and adjust their personal hygiene accordingly.
It seems that with every generation, Americans keep getting fatter and fatter. When we look at photographs of a High School graduating class from the 1950’s, we rarely see a fat kid. Now, it’s a significant portion of the class that is either chubby or overweight. There are several reasons why this is happening, but one of the contributing factors may be that students are not forced to go through a nutrition class. Yes, kids have to take Health and Physical Education, but it is a blend of anatomy, sex ed, and so many other things aside from nutrition. In Home Economics, students were typically taught about a healthy, balanced diet, and they were also made to cook some of these meals so they have a hands-on experience. If your children are struggling with their weight, consider signing them up for a cooking and nutrition course in your local area.
28. Community Awareness
What is your definition of a “good citizen”? To some people, all it takes to be a good citizen is to pay your taxes and stay out of trouble. In Home Economics class, used to teach students that it is important to give back to the community in a much bigger way. They should be donating clothes, giving money to the Red Cross, and volunteering their time in homeless shelters. Now, community service is treated like a punishment, rather than a rewarding experience. Many people who are hoping to go to college are now required to serve a certain number of service hours, but there are some places that truly do not care to teach their students about that at all.
27. Spending Wisely at the Grocery Store
A lot of parents take their kids grocery shopping so that they can have the experience of picking food, standing in line, and bagging groceries. But have you ever taught your kids how to find a bargain, choose the right size, or know when to pick an off-brand product? Have you ever clipped a coupon or looked at a sales flyer? There is actually so much more to know about the grocery process than meets the eye. Years ago, this was all taught in Home Economics class. Now, we need to rely on blogs and YouTube to help us figure out the best tips.
26. Household Maintenance
With so many Millennials being raised by their parents to go to college, many of these kids never learned how to do basic handyman work. Bankrate took a poll asking Millennials if they regretted buying a home. The number one regret was that they had absolutely no idea how much repairs cost, and they were totally blindsided by how expensive it all was. This could all have ben avoided if these kids went to Home Depot with their parents, took a wood shop class, or, oh- Home Economics! (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?) Kids used to learn about the various parts of the home that require maintenance, how to fix it, and how much to expect to pay if you need to hire help. By knowing all of this information, people felt much more prepared to be home owners, or they knew how to fix things all by themselves.
25. How to Live Together With Your Roommates or Partner
We all have a nightmare roommate story, especially in college. Some people are so infuriating, it’s hard to imagine how they can possibly live like such a slob. Well, it’s probably because their parents spoiled them rotten by cleaning up after them on a daily basis. Home Economics classes would actually talk to kids about being a mindful of what they should and should not do when living with other people. In the case of young women, they were often taught how to peacefully coexist with a husband, as well. Obviously, a lot of this advice about how a wife should be subservient to a husband are outdated, but if you replace it with how to have a healthy partnership, it would be a truly great class to take in secondary school.
24. The Cost of Having a Baby
Most modern schools have sex education classes, but many of them try to push abstinence and safe sex. The message is clear: Whatever you do, don’t get pregnant. It is easy to ignore this advice when you don’t fully understand the repercussions of becoming a teenage parent. In Home Economics classes, young women learned the actual cost of having a baby, buying diapers, food, clothes, and so much more. This way ,they were not blindsided by the unexpected costs.
23. Family Planning
In today’s world, most people wait until they are engaged or married to start family planning, but for years, it was taught in secondary school. How many kids do you want to have? If you have a certain number of kids, how much will that cost? How big of a house are you going to need? All of these questions might sound simple, but they are incredibly important, because your family goals will ultimately decide how you live your life. For example, if you want ten kids, you probably should get a job that pays more than minimum wage! Instead of waiting to figure those things out later, think about it now. Decide what kind of family future you want, and find a partner who has the same goals that you do.
22. How To Dress Well
Years ago, Home Economics class would teach young people how to choose proper business clothing, how to tie a necktie, and iron clothes. Now, people are lucky if they know how to button up a shirt! Sure, there are plenty of makeover shows on TV like Queer Eye, but many of them are not enough to really show someone how to be stylish and presentable at work. If this is something you struggle with, check out YouTube videos for how to make a good impression with the way you dress.
21. Proper Etiquette
Have you ever looked around a restaurant and noticed how many people are on their phones, instead of talking to the people they are with? It is actually very sad. This is just one example of how people no longer have very good table manners. Home Economics classes would teach you how to be polite, how to pass food around the table, and so much more. Nowadays, this level of care in eating a meal seems a bit over-the-top. But for people who have never been taught proper etiquette, they may get intense anxiety about the idea of going to a fancy restaurant. If you plan to move on up in the world, it’s probably a good idea to brush up on those tips.
The idea that arts and crafts were taught past elementary school sounds silly, but it truly is a great skill to have. Making hand-made items can be very useful in day-to-day-life. If this is something that you wish you could learn more about, check out classes taught at local Michael’s Crafts Stores and Joanne Fabrics. They usually give classes and demonstrations on how to make and sew things in exchange for a fee. Both stores offer classes at the adult and child level, so don’t ever feel embarrassed that you will be grouped together with people outside of your age group.
19. How to Care For Your House Plants
Nowadays, fake plants look just as good at the real ones, but they are very expensive. Owning real plants is actually a lot cheaper. They will also clean your air, and it can be a very rewarding experience to take care of them. However, every plant is different. Each one needs a different amount of water, sunlight, and plant food to keep them alive. This is why so many young people buy a plant for their apartment, and it dies within a couple weeks. Today, some schools in rural areas offer a horticulture class, but many students only take that if they plan to become farmers some day. If you are trying to keep your house plants alive, search YouTube with the name of your new plant in order to get detail instructions on how to care for them properly.
18. The Power of Good Habits
One of the most important things to learning a successful life is having good habits. This is true in nearly every aspect of your day. From waking up early, to your work ethic, to diet and exercise, and more. After we leave the school environment, people often lose their structure outside of work. And without parents there to tell you what to do, they do not have anything left to keep good habits in place. If their parents never bothered to teach them how to stay motivated keeping up a good habit, who will? This is why books like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have become so popular. Everyone is looking for guidance, and yet no one instinctively knows how to do it. Surprise surprise, these skills were taught in Home Economics classes back in the day.
Believe it or not, there are full-grown adults who do not know how to do laundry properly. Even if you were forced to do it all your life, there are still people who do not know how and when to use bleach, when to seperate colors, or remove stains. Home Economics class used to teach all of these things, and even had a washing machine in the classroom to demonstrate. Students also learned how to properly fold a fitted sheet. Now, today, people are so desperate for information about clothing care, they get fascinated by things like Marie Kondo’s folding techniques, because it is a skill we all admire, but few have anymore.
16. How to Choose Your Housing
After you turn 18, the decision on where to live is up to you. Sadly, a lot of kids who go to college never take into consideration just how ridiculously expensive room and board is, compared to renting an apartment. Or how getting a mortgage may actually save them money. Home Economics classes typically went over rent, mortgages, and other basic information about living expenses. This is incredibly important information- After all, it’s where were live, for goodness sake! But in the modern world, it’s not deemed to be important enough to teach in schools.
15. Basic Weights and Measurements
Do you remember how many ounces are in a pound? Sure, you probably learned that back in elementary school. But unless you are forced to apply it to a real-life scenario, it is likely that you will forget all about weight and measurements. Does it really matter in every-day life? Absolutely. For example, if you go to the grocery store, you might see a “value size” bag that is larger than the small bag. Most people automatically assume that “value” means they are getting a better deal. In reality, if you look at the weight-per-bag, it may actually be cheaper to stock up on several small bags of the same product. It is also necessary in cooking and following a recipe properly.
14. How to Build Credit
Everyone needs to learn how to build their credit score if they ever want to buy a house some day, and yet schools never teach it in the classroom. What’s up with that? Back when Home Economics was a requirement in secondary school, students were taught about a credit score, and how to be a responsible consumer. If your teenager (or you, for that matter) don’t know how to bring up your credit score, it is best to educate yourself online, and work on it together.
13. Garment Making
Years ago, it was cheaper to make clothes at home instead of going to the store. Women would buy sewing patterns by companies like Simplicity, Butterick, and Vogue to make specific designs. This is why sometimes, you look at old photographs and see family photos of mothers and daughters wearing the exact same dress. It was probably because the mother had leftover fabric ready to make her daughter something, too. In today’s world, it is more expensive to buy the fabric and sew a garment compared to getting something at Walmart or Forever 21. Now, very few people have this skill, unless they are an aspiring fashion designer.
12. How to Properly Set a Table
The concept of setting a table to look like the image above seems incredibly outdated and unrealistic for the modern family. And the idea that little girls were forced to learn this in Home Economics class seems rather silly. Who has time for that? In fact, many people will grab their food on a paper plate and plastic cup without bothering to set the table at all. We’re not judging, here. You can live your life however you want. However, on special occasions like Thanksgiving, or if you are trying to throw your own wedding, it truly is nice to see a proper table setting.
11. Choosing the Right Glassware
Have you ever gone to buy a nice set of glassware, and you aren’t sure what size to get? That’s probably because no one ever taught you the differences between a wine glass and a champagne flute. To some people, this information may seem silly and unnecessary. However, if you ever go to a wedding or a fancy party, you might embarrass yourself by not knowing which glass to use. Back in the day, young girls learned about proper glassware in the home, and how to use it. This is probably why you see so many grandmothers who are proud of their matching china sets. Nowadays, it is still around, of course, but not as many people take pride in owning a complete set.
10. Getting Along With Your Siblings
Have you ever noticed that TV shows went from portraying amazing sibling relationships in shows like The Brady Bunch to transitioning into 90’s shows where brothers are sister are constantly at each other’s throats? In the vintage textbook Home Economics and Livelihood Education #5, they go over the various relationships in the family- mother, father, sister, and brother. They got over each of the roles in the family, and how it is important to have a peaceful and happy coexistence. Sure, a few classes about getting along with your sibling is no replacement for good parenting, but it would be nice if it was taught in schools to reinforce good behavior.
9. Making Goals For Your Career
Today, one of the most popular topics among adults is “self help”, especially for people who are looking to accelerate their careers. In secondary school, most people are just worried about passing tests so that they can graduate and move on to college. Some kids even opt to drop out of High School, without really having a plan. Unfortunately, so many Millennials with Bachelor’s Degrees are stuck with low-paying jobs, and they have no idea how to get to the next step in their career.
For many young people, this problem could have been prevented if someone sat town with them to do some career planning…Guess what? They did that in Home Economics. (Shocker!) It is incredibly important for a young person to go through the steps of their dream, and come up with a “now what?” back-up-plan. However, if you choose to do this with your child, do so with caution. Don’t expect them to know exactly what they want at a very young age. This may take time, but as long as they understand that goals are important, that’s all that matters. Maybe consider helping them make a vision board so that they can at least begin to envision their goals.
8. Learning to Set Realistic Expectations For A Career
The United States is famous for being enthusiastic and optimistic. We are raised in the “American Dream” that we can be anything we set our mind to. In a lot of ways, optimism is a thing that a lot of people admire. However, most kids grow up not fully understanding what goes into the process of becoming what they want to be when they grow up. For example, they may see someone like Casey Neistat on YouTube and assume that he just gets to ride around on a skateboard and video tape himself all day in order to make millions of dollars. He does a great job of explaining how hard work goes into achieving a film career, but many kids truly don’t “get” that. Same goes with nearly any other career path. In Home Ec, teachers would give kids a general idea that they need to work hard to achieve their goals, and that success does not happen overnight.
7. Furnishing a House
Have you ever noticed that your grandparent’s house looked very cohesive with matching furniture, and most Millennials have a weird combination of whatever they could afford at Ikea? Back when students took Home Economics classes, they were taught how to pick furniture, and what was needed in a home. Nowadays, people are left to their own devices, or whatever their parents could manage to explain. This is probably why channels like HGTV are so popular nowadays, because people genuinely need help figuring out how to furnish their houses and apartments. For more tips on how to do that, check out our favorite decor site, Home Addict.
6. Growing Vegetables in a Home Garden
Years ago, almost everyone with a house and a plot of land had a little backyard garden. In Home Economics class, they would often have an entire section devoted to the various plants you can grow outside, and how to take care of them. People who actually take the time to grow their own garden find it to be incredibly rewarding, because they can walk outside to get free organic vegetables without going to the grocery store. Nowadays, most schools do not teach this skill, unless they give the option to take a horticulture class.
5. How to Be A Good Person
What is your definition of “being a good person”? We don’t really learn that in school, and most people will give you a different answer to that question. Nowadays, schools stay away from teaching a kid about morality. Since good morals are usually coupled together with faith and church services, public education tends to steer clear of anything that could potentially be an issue. However, years ago, Home Economics often included daily prayer into their curriculum. We’re not saying this should happen in schools again, because no single religion should be pushing an agenda on students. However, there needs to be a moral compass set by someone. If the parents are not choosing to help their children, it needs to come from somewhere, and school is a good place to start.
4. The Legal Responsibility of Marriage
A lot of people see marriage as a romantic thing. It is a commitment between two people that they will be together forever, have kids, and lived happily ever after. The sad reality is that in the United States, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and they end up fighting over who gets what. At the end of the day, the only difference between a committed partnership and a marriage is signing a legally binding contract. Most people never bother to read the contract, because they are too in love to worry about the negative consequences of their decisions. In Home Economics class, they would go over what a marriage contract really entails, and what each of the spouses’ responsibilities actually are. If there was a modern makeover to this section of the course, it may also be good to talk about getting a prenuptial agreement, too.
3. Making Pottery
Since ancient times, making pottery as an essential skill that people needed for their homes. Pots were used to store food, eat out of, and so much more. As time went on, we just buy our pottery from the store, and the only people who know how to do it are crafts people who enjoy it as a hobby. However, in Home Economics class, they would usually take the time to teach kids how pottery is made. Now, your children will never learn this skill unless you take them to a local pottery studio, or if they are apart of an after-school club like the Girl Scouts or 4H.
2. How to Fish
Okay, this next one was not in every Home Economics curriculum, especially if the school was in a land-locked area. But in seaside towns and cities, fishing can be an incredibly important part of people’s everyday lives. Fish provide food, jobs, and entertainment for men who are looking to take a boat out on a weekend. Today, few people understand how the fishing industry works, or how garbage affects our oceans. Even if you are not personally involved in the fishing industry, it is still important to know how it all works, in order to respect the planet.
1. How to Work in Retail
This last skill may be a bit surprising to some people, and you may wonder why Home Economics classes even bothered to include this in the curriculum. After all, you may hope that your child ends up going to college, and not having to work a retail job for the rest of their life. However, if you have worked retail before, you already know how annoying and inconsiderate some customers can be. And if you have ever worked in a service industry, you know how to have empathy for those employees. Everyone needs to know how to be a responsible consumer. And one way of doing that is by learning the ins and outs of the retail industry- from delivery, to stocking, to inventory. Once you understand the basic concepts, it can help everyone involved in the shopping experience.